Just a week after our wedding, we didn’t have time to make a detailed itinerary, but our wedding high made us game for adventure. We took the wrong trains a couple of times and got lost a lot more times; but once we discovered Hyperdia.com and had loaded ICOCA cards, going around Osaka and Tokyo on our own was so much fun. For someone who is Type A and bordering OC, it takes trips like this to remind me that some of the most pleasant surprises come when holidays aren’t planned.
First up on our itinerary was the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at the Universal Studios in Osaka. My hubby and I are big fans of the series, so starting our honeymoon at the village of Hogsmeade with two mugs full of hot butterbeer was just magical.
Our other favorite in Kyoto, this Buddhist temple is simply breathtaking in the fall with beautiful shades of yellow, orange and red reflecting the sunlight. It’s the perfect backdrop to a romantic daytime stroll.
If you have more time, the lovely Japanese lady who owns the Ryokan we stayed at recommended the Kinkaku-ji, Riyoan-ji, Ninna-ji and Nijo Castle. Get the unlimited bus pass so you can visit them all.
This was one of our two favorite temples in Kyoto. There are so many in the area, so if you’re only there for a couple of days (like us), make sure not to miss this Shinto shrine. The winding tunnel-like Torii path leading up to the mountain is just beautiful—and very Instagram-worthy! Going up and down the mountain was great exercise too.
What better place is there to spend your birthday than at the happiest place on earth? Charles secretly bought me a birthday pass, and everywhere we went, people were greeting me a “happy birthday!”—including Snow White’s Prince Charming! We went on all the rides, even the kiddie ones. It was such a fun day with my very own Prince Charming. Hands down, it was my best birthday ever!
Tsukiji Fish Market
The second happiest place on earth! Sashimi that melts in your mouth, and salmon roe that pops deliciously with every bite. It was the most memorable meal of our entire trip—of our entire lives, even.
Probably the most interesting part of our trip! We ended up in a Maid Café in Akihibara since it was the nearest place that advertised free wi-fi. When we entered the store, we were not prepared for the kawaii of it all! Some things you have to do at least once—and only once!
We got to say hello to Hachiko when we exited the train station, and got lost in translation and the shopping. Oh, the shopping! Start at Shibuya 109, and you’ll find clothes and shoes too pretty to be reasonably priced. It was my reward after spending the afternoon following my husband around the electronic city of Akihabara.
They’re everywhere, and thank goodness they are! Order the fried oyster curry and pick your level of spiciness—and the amount of rice. I love spicy food and have a high level of tolerance, but 6/10 is already piping hot for me.
Awesome yakitori, and drinks are at a really affordable price. Friends in Osaka brought us here, and then we met up with another set of friends who were living in Tokyo—they also brought us to a branch in Shinjuku!
Besides the sashimi at the Tsukiji Fish Market, the Matcha Ice Cream near the temples is definitely a must-try! There is no shortage of what-to-eat suggestions because everything is delicious, even the onigiri at 7-Eleven and vendo-meals at train stations are good.
Originally published in Zee Lifestyle, March 2015